Monday, December 20, 2010

We talk funny: Place names

This is the first in what I think will be just a two-parter about the ways we "talk" in North Carolina. And by talk I mean the way we speak and the way we pronounce place names. I've always been fascinated with this subject, especially after reading Walt Wolfram's "Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks."

This first part is geared at the various place names in the state. North Carolina is lucky in that we have A LOT of places that have some interesting pronunciations. In fact, the N.C. Collection at the UNC-Chapel Hill Library offers a database, of sorts, on its website called, "Talk Like a Tar Heel." You can view it here. In fact, the list is organized by county, which is quite helpful.

Among my favorites are ...
Conetoe (kuh-NEE-tuh)
Concord (CON-CORD -- not CON-kerd)
Etowah (EH-tuh-wuh)
Harnett (HAR-nit)
Mebane (MEB-in -- not muh-BAIN)
Tyrrell (TERR-il)
Zebulon (ZEB-you-lon)

Of course, I don't necessarily agree with some of these; I've always heard Edgecombe as "EDGE-comb," not "EDGE-cum," as listed here.

Any other place names that don't necessarily sound like they look?


Anonymous said...

Rowan county is ROW-an. It's next to CON-CORD (con-kerd is what the south was by the north during Civil War.)

Melissa said...

In Buncombe Co there's a community named Leicester, pronounced "Lester."